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Video / Photo Dive Lights

If you intend to do underwater photography or videography, a bright wide beam light is a necessity to adequately light your subjects. At The Scuba Doctor, our goal is to be your source for quality photo and video lights, but not overwhelm you with thousands of choices.

Extreme sports action video cameras like the GoPro, WASPcam and Intova Edge are all the rage, and we have the perfect video lights and mount equipment for them. We also have focus lights for underwater cameras. If you have any questions, or would like to special order something you don't see below, just contact our customer service team.

Chinamans Hat

Other Other | Boat access Boat access

Ideal For Snorkelling Inside Port Phillip Open Water Rated Slack Water

Depth: 2 m (6.56 ft) to 12 m (39 ft)

Snorkel or Dive With Australian Fur Seals

Chinamans Hat
Chinamans Hat
© Unknown

Chinaman's Hat is an octagonal structure serving as a shipping channel marker and haul-out for local Australian Fur Seals, near the South Channel of Port Phillip. Earlier structures on the site once served as navigation beacons. In early 2002 the old structure was demolished and a new one built nearby.

Chinaman's Hat is a popular destination for scuba divers, snorkellers and tourists. Dive charter boats, snorkelling and tour operators, operating out of Sorrento, Portsea and Queensliff all have regular trips out to the site.

Chinaman's Hat History

The term Chinaman's Hat is the local name once associated with the site of a former military structure, Station M, but now transferred to a new seal platform erected by Victoria's Park Authority in 2002. The postwar structure was built to replace a dilapidated military installation erected as part of the Port Phillip defence system shortly before 1942.

Parks Victoria was granted a permit in early 2002 to demolish the old structure after arguing that it posed a risk for small craft navigation and was devoid of heritage value. In the face of public protests, the Authority went ahead and built an expensive alternative platform which was quickly disparaged by critics at the time as a veritable 'Taj Mahal for seals'.

Seal Paradise

Fur Seal at Chinaman's Hat
Fur Seal at Chinaman's Hat
© Sam Glenn Smith

This new Chinaman's Hat structure for the seal colony lies not far from the Mud Islands bird sanctuary. Chinamans Hat is also a minor roosting site for cormorants and other diving birds.

Initially the Australia Fur Seals, the largest fur seal found in Australian waters, gave the new structure the cold shoulder and refused to budge from their traditional, run-down landmark. It was only after the authorities proceeded to demolish the old haul out that they settled on the new platform, giving it their seal of approval. It's this new structure which now carries the name Chinaman's Hat.

The seals need to haul out of the water and have a deep sleep every few weeks after days of fishing. During this time they generally spend time scratching themselves and romping with each other. Unlike most seals, Australian fur seals like touching each other.

Diving and Snorkelling With Australian Fur Seals

Chinamans Hat
Chinamans Hat
© Dolphin Research Institute

Australian fur seals can be found sunning themselves at Chinaman's Hat. Together with Popes Eye and other structures and buoys, Chinaman's Hat is a popular haul out or resting site in Port Phillip, and is occupied by a bachelor community of Australian fur seals.

Chinaman's Hat is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers. Access to the site is by boat and visitors are warned to keep their distance. The seals can at times behave aggressively towards people who approach too close.

The rules at a glance:

  • It is illegal to touch or feed a seal.
  • If you are swimming, do not approach within 5 metres of a haul out site.
  • Do not approach on a vessel within 30 metres of a seal haul out site.
  • Do not approach within 30 metres of a seal on land, whether you are also on land or in the water.
  • Do not approach within 5 metres of a seal on a boat ramp, pier, jetty or other infrastructure connected to land and designed for access to the water.
  • Dogs must not enter the water within 150 metres of a dolphin, 300 metres of a whale or 50 metres of a seal.
  • Dogs are not permitted within 50 metres of a seal on land.

In summary, at seal haul out sites, where seals congregate but don't breed (e.g. Chinaman's Hat), you must stay at least five metres from the seals if you are swimming, and at least 30 metres away if you are in a recreational vessel, other than a jet ski. Jet skis must remain at least 50 metres from a seal on a haul out site. (Licensed tour operators are permitted to approach closer than distances detailed above, subject to a range of other operating conditions.) Additional restrictions apply to approaching seal-breeding colonies.

See Encountering seals for more information.

See WillyWeather (South Channel Pile Light) as a guide for the tide times and the height of the tide.

Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country
Boon Wurrung / Bunurong country

Traditional Owners — This dive site is in the traditional Country of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. This truly ancient Country includes parts of Port Phillip, from the Werribee River in the north-west, down to Wilson's Promontory in the south-east, including the Mornington Peninsula, French Island and Phillip Island, plus Western Port. We wish to acknowledge the Boon Wurrung as Traditional Owners. We pay respect to their Ancestors and their Elders, past, present and emerging. We acknowledge Bunjil the Creator Spirit of this beautiful land, who travels as an eagle, and Waarn, who protects the waterways and travels as a crow, and thank them for continuing to watch over this Country today and beyond.


Chinamans Hat Location Map

Latitude: 38° 17.257′ S   (38.287621° S / 38° 17′ 15.44″ S)
Longitude: 144° 43.587′ E   (144.726454° E / 144° 43′ 35.23″ E)

Datum: WGS84 | Google Map
Added: 2012-07-22 09:00:00 GMT, Last updated: 2021-07-28 15:08:19 GMT
Source: GPS
Nearest Neighbour: William Salthouse, 2,445 m, bearing 314°, NW
Australian Fur Seals, Port Phillip.
Depth: 2 to 12 m.

DISCLAIMER: No claim is made by The Scuba Doctor as to the accuracy of the dive site coordinates listed here. Should anyone decide to use these GPS marks to locate and dive on a site, they do so entirely at their own risk. Always verify against other sources.

The marks come from numerous sources including commercial operators, independent dive clubs, reference works, and active divers. Some are known to be accurate, while others may not be. Some GPS marks may even have come from maps using the AGD66 datum, and thus may need be converted to the WGS84 datum. To distinguish between the possible accuracy of the dive site marks, we've tried to give each mark a source of GPS, Google Earth, or unknown.


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